The act of prayer or “salah” is performed 5 times a day by over by over 1.8 billion muslims every single day. It is one of the five major components of Islam, and while its purpose is to devote oneself to god in worship, it has enormous health benefits as well.
To begin, before performing salah, one must perform ablution- the act of washing oneself- or “wudhu”. This promotes good and regular cleanliness and hygiene and provides regular sanitation for our bodies as it may be done multiple times a day. It can also release stress and anxiety as it can be therapeutic for the hands, face, and feet.
Salah has been compared to yoga, as the body is stretched into different positions. In each of these positions, it stretches and relieves tension from different muscles in the body, reduces stiffness and helps blood circulation. It can also help promote flexibility while also affecting good digestion in the body For example the first step of salah, the standing position, or “qiyam” strengthens muscles in the leg as well as helps blood circulation in the lower body. The next position in salah, the bowing or “rukuh” position, stretches the lower back, as well as the thigh and calf muscles. The “sajda” or prostrating position in salah increases healthy blood flow in the brain, which can have a positive effect on memory and concentration. Lastly, the final step of salah, the “salam”, is a good neck exercise which can release tension stored in the neck joints
Salah is a form of meditation that eases the mind. During salah, one focuses completely on god and distractions should not affect ones prayer. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with different messaging from social media and television, and where hardships occur constantly within our everyday life, it is important to take the time out of our day to clear our minds and intentions, and focus on the bigger picture of life. This can make our seemingly big problems seem obsolete and help us get through life’s constant trials. Salah not only enhances us spiritually, but physically and mentally as well.
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